Not too long ago, we lived in a world where everyone was sitting at office desks or home offices. It was all about desktop computers and laptops. But it’s a completely different scenario nowadays; people aren’t confined to their desks anymore because there’s a wide range of devices available within reach. People are reading e-books on their Kindles, using apps on their iPhones, browsing the Internet through tablets, and more.
Information architecture versus digital realm architecture
Just a few years ago, people were buzzing about information architecture – how they’re going to layout and create structures that will effectively house data and concepts so that audiences can make something out of it (information). But today, the attention is starting to shift to the digital realm architecture, which pertains to the actual design used to deliver digital experiences and services.
For instance, information architecture in a website usually denotes how text, images, and other media are arranged, including how sitemaps and individual pages are mapped out. It basically answers the question "How will the site be presented visually?" Digital realm architecture offers something deeper. If you’re using a tablet to open a page, would it still look the same and would it bring the same functionalities as when you type down the web address using a laptop? If you comment on an article on the page, will you be able to see the same discussion on the small screen of your mobile phone? Which visual elements can you tap or click on when checking out the site using another platform in order to engage in conversation?
Given this new trend of consuming, sharing, conversing, and engaging, businesses are now facing the tough challenge of building a digital presence across many devices or "cross-media" as they call it. How should designers and software engineers cope, then?
Responsive web design involves using the same URL and HTML but a different CSS to display websites. Have you ever stumbled upon a website that displays content that adjusts to the size of the screen? That’s the most basic example of responsive design. Though it is more costly and requires more effort, businesses are turning to this fluid, flexible, and proportion-based approach in order to deliver an optimal viewing and navigation experience to their audiences and prospects.
Mobile website creators have recently placed emphasis on dynamic serving, a process of delivering websites according to the devices used to access them. It’s a bit similar to responsive design, but it involves changing HTML (and CSS) codes. When someone visits a site that employs dynamic serving, the server that hosts it detects the kind of device used, makes sense of it, and throws out a version of the site that suits the user’s device as a respond to the request.
Businesses are now turning to mobile apps to deliver services or experiences to audiences without having to worry about the mobile web. Phone service provider RingCentral, for instance, has its Cloud Touch platform, wherein instead of accessing your account using a browser or web-based dashboard, you can just go straight to its touch-optimized app and manage your phone system from there whether you’re using a tablet or a smartphone.
Improving your business presence in this highly mobile, multi-device, multi-screen world isn’t easy, but you definitely have to take little steps in order to cope.